For the average person, three and a half hours can be a long time to sit anywhere. So when Google CEO Sundar Pichai had to spend that much time answering questions in Congress, I couldn't have blamed him for getting a bit impatient. He didn't, though, even when a Congresswoman basically insinuated that Google might manipulate some search results for political reasons. It wasn't exactly the most professional style of questioning, I might add, and you can see what I mean in this video.

There was a bit of bait dangling there--and Pichai managed not to take it. Instead, he answered with respect, both to the senator and to the forum they were in.

An Emotionally Intelligent Teachable Moment

While he could have replied in any way he wanted (some would say a silly question deserves a silly answer), he instead leveraged the situation into a teachable moment. He briefly--and again, respectfully--educated Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California about the basics of search algorithms, rather than respond in kind to the perceived condescension. 

And if respectfully educating someone who's baiting you isn't enough to ask, he also handled the moment in a manner I would refer to as dutiful. He didn't gloss, skim, or employ excessive jargon, instead speaking plainly and methodically, in a way that seemed to indicate that he genuinely wanted his points to be understood--an act of public service, if you will. Heck, even I was humbled by the explanation. 

Naturally, it bears mentioning that all of this occurred in an extraordinarily high-stakes arena. 

Which leads me to ask, How can I be more like Pichai?--that level of emotional intelligence is certainly an admirable trait.

One way is practice, practice, practice. The next time you want to binge-watch something, consider watching some more Pichai footage and study him. Watch his demeanor with heightened awareness and consider where you can incorporate admirable traits into your day-to-day. 

You can also imagine that the CEO of one of the world's largest corporations has spent his share of time answering questions in front of important audiences. He's a parent (which can teach patience) and comes from humble beginnings (which can keep you grounded). And, at Google, he's known (and popular) for being even-tempered and considerate

But whether it's some combination of the above or simple genetic predisposition that kept Pichai calm in the storm's midst, his stoic leadership style bodes well for Google (and Google's employees).

If you're "searching" for someone to look up to as a leader, Pichai might be one of the best "results" you'll come across. 

Published on: Dec 14, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.